Ashleigh Barty had a tough day on Wednesday. The top-ranked women’s tennis player was upset in the semifinals of the Australian Open, and she attracted whining from tennis dudes who didn’t like that she brought a baby to her post-match press conference.
Olivia, Barty’s 11-week-old niece, joined her for the press conference after the match. She joked that the journalists “might get more out of Liv,” but proceeded to professionally answer questions, only demurring when asked about specifics of her preparation and strategy, a reasonable way to preserve her competitive edge.
Responding to a later question, Barty said that Olivia “brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court. I got to give her a hug and it’s all good.” The infant squirmed and cried a few times, but was for the most part well-behaved throughout the eight-minute session.
And yet, multiple tennis commentators took issue with Barty.
“I don’t think the baby should have been in there. I think it is a place of work. It’s an office space. We are there to ask questions and, as lovely a sight as it was on one hand, it’s not really what’s supposed to go on,” said BBC tennis commentator David Law.
Mark Woodforde, an Australian tennis pro, said of Barty: “She’s a lovely young lady, we talk about how all Australians are embracing Ash because she’s so humble and down to earth, but yes, I felt like maybe it was a way of deflecting some of the tough questions.”
After watching the video, it’s hard to conclude that their complaints stem from anything besides a resistance to change. It’s not exactly surprising, but it’s still disappointing.